In our Money Mic series, we hand over the podium to people with controversial views about money. These are their views, not ours, but we welcome your responses.
Today, one man explains why amassing a vast amount of wealth isn’t part of his plan—and why embracing a non-rich lifestyle suits him best.
Around 10 years ago, when I was 20, I traveled to Sri Lanka. It was a trip I’d dreamt about for years—and a country that, for some inexplicable reason, had always fascinated me. I had just graduated from Cardiff University in Wales, and it was my first time setting foot outside Europe, where I’d grown up.
The vacation was everything I’d wanted it to be, and it ignited one of the biggest passions in my life: travel. But it wasn’t just the country’s spectacular tourist spots that left a lasting impact—one brief encounter actually changed the way I look at life.
One afternoon, while in the outskirts of Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo, I took a walk with my friend’s grandfather through the fields near his house. We came across two of his friends, who invited me into their home—a mud hut with no electricity—and cooked a meal of slow-cooked curried chicken and rice.
I savored the food for its flavor, but I felt a sense of guilt, too. These people didn’t have to be so generous to me, a stranger, but here they were, offering me what little they had. I explained this to them in an attempt to express my deep appreciation.
One of them held my hand and said, “It’s nothing. We have more than enough.”
My friend’s grandfather later explained that Sri Lanka is a country rich in natural resources, so people generally have enough to eat. And because of the Buddhist values inherent in the culture, many feel completely satisfied owning very few material possessions.
The whole experience altered me profoundly.
Although I wouldn’t sign up to live in similar circumstances—I’ve grown accustomed to certain luxuries, like smart phones and running water—my perspective on what it means to live well is different. Since then, I’ve adopted the belief that the less you have in terms of possessions, the more you’re able to find what really drives you.
Of course, I didn’t always think like this.